Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2003
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Mules Back in Top 25

The Muhlenberg men’s soccer team returned to the national rankings after winning the Centennial Conference championship over the weekend.

The Mules are ranked fourth in the Mid-Atlantic Region and 25th in Division III. They were ranked 16th for one week earlier this season and received votes another week.

Muhlenberg’s potential opponent in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Stevens Tech, is ranked sixth, and regional host Drew is 18th.

The women’s team also is fourth in the region, its highest ranking of the season. The Mules are one of three teams listed as also receiving votes in the national top 25 poll. Undefeated Scranton, which will be visiting Muhlenberg for the NCAA Tournament this weekend, is ranked No. 2 in the country.

James Henshaw Katie Amari

In addition to moving up in the rankings, both Muhlenberg teams also had the CC player of the week. Sophomore James Henshaw was honored for the men after scoring three of five Mule goals in the two CC playoff games, while sophomore Katie Amari earned the women’s award for her game-winning goal in the championship match against Gettysburg.

Muhlenberg vs. Gordon

The Muhlenberg men’s soccer team will make its ninth NCAA Division III Tournament appearance when it hosts Gordon in a first-round game on Wednesday at 5:00.

The winner advances to play Stevens Tech at Drew on Friday at 1:30.

The Mules (17-4) are 5-7-2 in their previous eight appearances. Three of the wins and one of the ties came in 1995, when they reached the national semifinals. Muhlenberg last played in the NCAAs in 1997, advancing to the third round.

The Fighting Scots (14-3-4) are making their first NCAA appearance. Gordon did get a bid to the ECAC New England Tournament last year, bowing out in the quarterfinals.

Muhlenberg is riding a seven-game winning streak that includes two wins over the weekend in the Centennial Conference playoffs. The CC championship was the fourth, but the first since 1997, for the Mules.

“Many of us thought we had a shot at winning the conference right from the start,” remarked junior forward Nick Richardson, who is tied for third on the team with eight goals. “Now that it’s here we are definitely very excited.”

Muhlenberg has scored 55 goals this season (its most since 1995) while allowing only 11. Topping the list are senior Evan Smallwood (10 goals, eight assists) and sophomore James Henshaw (10 goals, five assists) – the first pair of Mule teammates to each score 10 or more goals since Todd Ervin and Johan Hohman in 1997. Sophomore Jose Ramirez has added eight goals.

The Mules face a new opponent in Commonwealth Coast Conference winner Gordon, a team that
Ryan Smallwood
Sophomore back Ryan Smallwood is part of a Muhlenberg defense that has recorded 12 shutouts.
tied defending national champion Messiah, 1-1, in its season opener and is undefeated in its last 12 matches.

“We don’t know anything about Gordon,” admitted Richardson. “But obviously if they won their conference and are in the NCAAs they’re going to be a good team.”

Unlike the Mules, who feature a balanced scoring attack, the Scots’ stats are dominated by sophomore striker Matt Smith, who has been involved in 33 of the team’s 45 goals (19 goals and 14 assists). Smith has scored 10 goals in his last seven games and has 10 of Gordon’s 14 game-winning goals.

Muhlenberg has enjoyed its homefield advantage, setting a school record with 12 home wins this season. If the Mules win, they will get to face Stevens Tech for the second time this season, and if they win that game, they could potentially face Drew for the second time. Muhlenberg handed Stevens its only loss to date and suffered its last loss to Drew.

“I would love to get there, but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” said Richardson. “We know that it’s one and done, and in the playoffs anything can happen.”

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Last updated November 11, 2003